Before the change of the Lunar New Year, it is traditional to engage in practices to clear out any remaining negativity lingering from the previous year. Before the beginning of the Year of the Iron Ox, Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche and the lamas at KC16 held pre-Losar Mahakala pujas with abundant offerings to clear the way for hard work, steady progress, and abounding auspiciousness.
It has been said that Karmapa Center 16 founding board member, Damayonti Sengupta, is a daughter of the Karma Kagyu lineage, of which the Gyalwang Karmapa has always been the spiritual leader. While our hearts are filled with loving grief due to Damayonti’s passing on January 26, at age 51, we remember with joy and gratitude the numerous beneficial activities of her lifetime, including locating and helping to secure the site of Karmapa Center 16 in Wadsworth, Illinois.
In 2014, in addition to her role as Manager of Nalanda West in Seattle, Damayonti took on the task of finding a suitable property near Zion, Illinois, where His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa attained parinirvana in 1981.
It was the wish of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche to establish a center to commemorate his guru, the 16th Karmapa, with a stupa, memorial, meditation hall, retreat center, and place to learn and study about the history of Buddhism and the Karma Kagyu lineage. Through devotion to her guru, Dzogchen Ponlop, Damayonti set the wheels in motion to accomplish his wish, with guidance and direction from founding member and President Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche and founding member and Vice President Lama Phuntsok.
Sophie Gordon, Karmapa Center 16 office supervisor, recalls watching Damayonti “navigate many obstacles with skill and grace. She embodied many of the excellent qualities to which bodhisattvas aspire, but in my experience, her equanimity was especially amazing! For me, she was equanimity in action fueled by unwavering devotion to her gurus, the lineage and all that the dharma has to offer. Her example was a vivid teaching. There are no words for how grateful I feel and how much I already miss her.”
Damayonti’s 49th day is March 15. If you would like to pray for Damayonti to support her journey through the bardo, it is suggested to first recite the Heart Sutra, followed by any type of nature-of-mind meditation practice, then finish by dedicating your practice to Damayonti and all sentient beings.
If you would like to offer a gift in honor of Damayonti’s life and to help manifest her aspiration to complete the Stupa Project, you may do so by clicking on the button below.
Dear Friends of KC16,
Our hearts are filled with loving grief at the loss of KC16 founding board member, Damayonti Sengupta. Damayonti died peacefully in the presence of family and Nalandabodhi sangha members on Tuesday, January 26, after a lengthy and courageous effort to treat pancreatic cancer. Damayonti was 51 years old.
Damayonti will be remembered for her sparkling eyes and infectious laughter, her all-encompassing kindness and boundless joy. Her vast beneficial activities speak to her wisdom and skillfulness as a leader. Her tireless dedication, despite her illness, to the success of Karmapa Center 16 in general, and the Stupa Project in particular, was deeply inspiring.
In honor of our beloved friend and KC16 founding board member, we are committed to fulfilling her mission and heartfelt aspiration to continue developing Karmapa Center 16, commemorating His Holiness with a stupa, memorial, meditation hall, retreat center, and place to learn and study about the history of Buddhism and the Karma Kagyu lineage.
For those who wish to practice for Damayonti, it is suggested to first recite the Heart Sutra followed by any type of nature-of-mind meditation practice, finishing by dedicating your practice to Damayonti and all sentient beings.
Greetings dear friends of KC 16,
As we learned in the previous email, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, taught extensively and intensively with physical gestures and by his mere presence. In the video below, Don Winchell describes how he also created the environment around him and the way it brought about unexpected transformations.
A student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Winchell served on the support team for the 16th Karmapa’s 1976 visit to North America.
Through this delightful example of the enlightened activity of His Holiness, may we all aspire to create a world of gentleness and kindness!
We have received wonderful responses to the stories we’ve posted, and some included a personal experience with the 16th Karmapa. If you’d like to share your memories or photos of His Holiness with us, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, we offer our heartfelt thanks for your continued interest and support of KC16. May the Center be of great benefit to all beings.
Greetings dear friends of KC 16,
Many of us have seen the yellow and blue Dream Flag or Namchen Banner of the 16th Karmapa, but not many of us may know the story behind it. We had the good fortune to speak to the person who, at the request of His Holiness, sewed the original flag — Deborah Luscomb.
Deborah is a longtime student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and a professional seamstress. At the request of her teacher, she oversaw the national textile production — from wall coverings, bedspreads and chair upholstery to banners, shrines and thrones — for the 16th Karmapa’s third visit to North America. The first special request from His Holiness of Deborah was to make a new brocade cover for the Black Crown hatbox. The second special request was to make the Dream Flag, which was raised on Midsummer’s Day 1980, at Marpa House in Boulder, CO. In this video, Deborah recalls what happened:
Several inches of snow whiten the grounds at the Karmapa Center 16, while in front of the main house the yellow and blue Dream Flag flies despite the weather, and dharma indeed does flourish.
With best wishes for a peaceful and joyous 2021, we send you our heartfelt thanks for your continued interest and support of KC16.
On this auspicious day of the Parinirvana of Düsum Khyenpa (1110-1193), the First Karmapa, KC16 Rinpoche and Lamas perform extended practices.
Historically, in Tibet, there were three “seats” of the Karmapas correlating with the sacred abodes of body, speech and mind of the Glorious Chakrasamvara. Kampo Nenang is the lower seat of “body”, Karma Gön is “middle seat” of speech and Tsurphu is the “upper seat” of the heart, or mind. Tsurphu became the main seat of all the Karmapas. Düsum Khyenpa attained Parinirvana at Tsurphu. We can see that the place of attainment of Parinirvana is important, and again remember what a special circumstance it is that His Holiness the 16th Karmapa attained Parinirvana in Zion, Illinois.
Dear Friends of KC16,
During the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, adoptions and sales of pets have similarly soared around the world, bringing companionship, comfort and joy to many. His Holiness the 16th Karmapa understood that joy and extended his deep compassion and love to all animals, though most especially to birds.
The connection between the Karmapa lineage and birds is legendary. The 10th Karmapa created artwork around birds, while the 13th Karmapa was renowned for his ability to communicate with his feathered friends. According to many students and attendants, birds literally flocked to the 16th Karmapa. Observers remarked that the Karmapa treated his birds as disciples, and they often displayed signs of meditative accomplishment in his presence.
A longtime student of His Holiness, Mary Jane Bennett, recounts a story in The Miraculous 16th Karmapa, when the Karmapa once said to her, “I don’t have to buy birds, you know. I just have to look at them and be with them. Being with them is my best medicine.” Bennett writes that she “could see that was true. After any journey to visit animals of any kind, His Holiness would return with a rosy glow on his face. When His Holiness lay dying in a hospital near Chicago, one of his close disciples, a driver and bird procurer, Steve Roth, brought a rare purple breasted gouldian finch and left it in his room. The joyful sound of birdsong would accompany his passage to parinirvana.”
Years before, Roth had asked the Karmapa why he liked birds so much. His Holiness replied, “Just try to sense their joy!”
What birds are you seeing and hearing around you? Pause, look, listen, and just be with them, as His Holiness says. Can you sense that powerful, compassionate connection with birds – or other animals? Can you feel the joy?
We send you all our best wishes and thank you for your continued interest and support of KC16.
KC16 celebrates the day His Holiness the 16th Karmapa attained Parinirvana according to the Western calendar. Therefore, November 5 is the day!
Each year a long guru yoga puja is conducted in alternating years of a composition by Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche and one by Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche. This year KC16 will be performing the guru yoga by Chamgon Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche.
Please join us in commemorating this auspicious day by dedicating your practice to His Holiness.
May all things be auspicious!
KC16 raised “Lungta” prayer flags, or wind horse flags, and recited a long life smoke puja composed by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa on Friday, October 30, 2020.